Optimist Soccer League turns 27

Published 11:56 am Wednesday, April 21, 2004

By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The Optimist Soccer League turns 27 years old this season and age does not seem to be slowing the league down a bit.
With approximately 1,200 participants on 81 teams this season, the league has fewer players but has also cut its divisions down by eliminating the high school division.
The league now operates nine divisions, one for each grade from kindergarten through eighth grade.
In keeping with the league's theory that learning the game and having fun is more important than winning, standings are not kept and scores are only reported by officials.
Willis, along with Rudy Kappe and Louanne Wesner are the main coordinators of the league, but Willis is quick to point out those three could never do it on their own.
Coaches are all volunteers as well. Only officials receive pay for their time.
The league charges a registration fee of $30 per player or $50 per family with two or more players. Those fees, along with sponsor fees of $150 per team, cover the league's costs.
Because the registration fees cover the league's costs, players are never asked to raise money on their own.
With 81 teams in the league, finding enough sponsors can sometimes be a challenge but, Willis said, it always comes together somehow.
Willis believes the community's willingness to sponsor Optimist League teams is encouraging.
As the league continues to provide children an outlet to have fun and exercise, the faces may change but the purpose remains the same.